Author Archive

Jan 14

Flying Beer Trucks

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 10:04 AM

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In October 1944, I was with Marine Scout Bomber Squadron (VMSB) 142 stationed on Emirau Island, 1 degree south of the equator, in the northern Solomons. We were part of the force keeping the Japanese bases of Kavieng and Rabaul isolated. Training flights in our Douglas SBD Dauntlesses plus an occasional strike was the order of the day, as we waited for the Philippine liberation campaign to begin. I had noticed a small growth on the sole of my left foot that made it painful to walk on, and also painful to put pressure on the rudder pedal of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 7

Dispelling a USS Liberty Theory

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 12:01 AM

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The role of the diesel electric submarine USS Amberjack (SS-522) during the June 1967 Six-Day War–and specifically at the time of the Israeli attack on the spy ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5) on 8 June–has elicited considerable interest from many quarters. There have been controversial interpretations of events associated with the Amberjack’s movements, but what actually happened is significant because, in some cases, theoretical misrepresentations of events have stained the honor of a U.S. submarine. In 1967, U.S. national strategic interests drove the approach by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his key cabinet members and national security advisers to the growing… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 10

The U.S. Navy’s ‘Smashers’

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 12:01 AM

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Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 17

Theodore Roosevelt, Naval Expansion, and Guaranteeing Peace

Thursday, October 17, 2019 3:32 PM

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In 1897, William McKinley was inaugurated as 25th President of the United States. As an advocate of tariffs and protectionist policies, McKinley believed in supporting U.S. interests in Cuba and around the globe through diplomacy and tough negotiations. And yet, just over 12 months after his inauguration, McKinley would find himself leading the United States into war against a European power. Although America would enjoy total victory in 1898, this was despite the lack of naval preparation throughout the 1880s and 1890s. The near-immediate naval build-up in 1897 and early 1898 was due in large part to the bold actions… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 8

The 1st Marines on Bloody Nose Ridge

Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:01 AM

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On 15 September 1944, the 1st Marine Division landed on Peleliu with its commander, Major General William H. Rupertus, confidently predicting the Japanese-held island would be in U.S. hands within four days. But the grueling Battle of Peleliu would last 73 days, with the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division eventually taking over operations. Two key factors contributed to the battle stretching so long: The Japanese abandoned large-scale assaults in favor of attritional, defensive warfare, and they had ideal terrain in which to implement their new tactics—the rugged coral and limestone Umurbrogol Mountain, which Marines nicknamed “Bloody Nose Ridge.”

 
Jul 12

Stan the Navy Man Musial

Friday, July 12, 2019 10:27 AM

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Some shards of memory gleam back from long ago with a special sparkle that keeps them ever fresh in mind. For my brother Mark and me, a cluster of such memories assembled one hot summer evening, 27 August 1954, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. We had been captivated by bubble-gum baseball cards and Harry Caray’s exciting radio broadcasts of Cardinal games. For months we had been begging our parents to take us to our first big-league game. The magic evening arrived. Alas, the Brooklyn Dodgers won the game 8–4, but we were hooked. Our hero, then and since, was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 14

Museum Report: The Tug That Fought

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 11:07 AM

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Alongside the quay at the Port of Oswego, New York, an old warrior stands guard. On her stack, she proudly displays her “kill mark”: the silhouette of a fighter plane and swastika. Her twin .50-caliber guns still point skyward. She is U.S. Army large tug LT-5, the John F. Nash, originally christened the Major Elisha K. Henson and launched on 22 November 1942. During my three-hour tour of the 115-foot tug, I saw everything from the captain’s cabin to the spike-mounted “stinger” guns on the small gun deck abaft the pilothouse. It was during Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, that… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 18

Reflections on Admiral Yamamoto

Thursday, April 18, 2019 12:01 AM

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On this date in 1943, U.S. Army Air Forces P-38 Lightning fighters, acting on U.S. Navy signals intelligence, shot down a bomber carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. Yamamoto’s death was a devastating blow to Japan’s war effort. Commander Edwin T. Layton, intelligence officer on the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief, played a key role in the events that led to Yamamoto’s death. Ironically, Layton had gotten to know the Japanese admiral while serving as assistant naval attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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